Monday, September 19, 2011

My Summer Book Report: Supernatural Edition

The “Hellatus” between seasons 6 and 7 of Supernatural got to be a bit too much for me to handle this summer so I decided to fill as much time as I could scarfing up any and all Winchester bits I could get my hands on, including a few of the Supernatural novels. Something important to know about these books is that you DO need to be pretty familiar with the show before reading but you DO NOT need to be familiar with any of the other novels released before or after the one you’re about to indulge in. You also DO NOT need to read the books to keep up with the show. They are simply previously unseen adventures that, for the most part, fit neatly between already aired episodes (also, the covers are very pretty to look at). A lot of you Supernatural fans may have already read every one of these novels and formed your own opinions (which I’d LOVE to hear! Please share!) but for those of you still thinking about giving them a try, here are a few of my (spoiler free) thoughts on a few that I’ve read.

Title: Coyote’s Kiss
Author:Christa Faust
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Timeline: Events of this novel take place between “Caged Heat” (6x10) and “Appointment in Sumara” (6x11)
Coyote’s Kiss is one of the latest of the Supernatural novels and also the first that I picked up. I was both anxious and apprehensive about diving in. Dean and a Souless Sam take on a case involving a monster they’ve never ganked (which fits right in with the rest of season 6) and a brand of hunter they’ve never experienced who leads them deep into Mexico with the goal of saving the world. Again. My strongest hope was that it wouldn’t venture too far off episode canon or too far away from the characters' voices. Some people watch Supernatural for the action, some for the eye candy, but I watch because I’ve fallen in love with who the Winchesters are. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. I imagine Souless Sam isn’t an easy character to write but he seemed pretty on point here. Not perfect by any means but I have few complaints. However, there were instances where I thought to myself, “Dean would NEVER say anything like that.” Mostly “chick flick” moments (come on. We all know Dean Winchester isn’t the touchy feel your feelings kind of butt kicker) but it didn’t happen often enough for me to throw the book out the window. For the most part I could clearly hear Jensen Ackles’ voice as if he himself were delivering Dean’s lines in a scene. The mythology was a little sloppy and confusing but engrossing overall. In the end I was able to over look the snags and really enjoy the ride.
Final grade: B-

Title: One Year Gone
Author: Rebecca Dessertine
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Timeline: Events of this novel take place between “Swan Song” (5x22) and “Exile on Main Street” (6x01)
I was especially excited to read this novel after reading the foreword by the Supernatural god himself, Eric Kripke as the book was written by his assistant. I wonder if Eric ever read the final book. Warning: I’m gonna get a little knit picky here. The individual(s) who edited this book need to be fired. There were countless wording, spelling and grammatical errors that just ripped me right out of the story time after time. The other issue, which not many others would ever have, is that it takes place in Salem. Where I live. Just a tiny bit of research or one glance at Google Maps would have saved me from so much aggravation. To give some credit, this was written to be a case that Dean and Souless Sam take on during the year they’re apart so they never actually have any interaction. Since the story of the Winchesters is all about their relationship, this tale would be next to impossible to tell for anyone. I do however want to point out that even without technical errors or difficult story lines, this book still would have probably made me mad. There was an incident on a pirate ship that was really fun to read and Souless Sam was detached, cold, & a bit scary. In other words: perfect. But Dean? Oh man. Aside from a few quiet moments where he mourned the loss of his brother, it was not even close. And the bits of his relationship with Lisa covered here were also pretty unbelievable. Not gonna lie. I wasn’t sad when it was over.
Final grade: D

Title: War of the Sons
Author: Rebecca Dessertine & David Reed
Release Date: August 31, 2010
Timeline: Events of this novel take place between “My Bloody Valentine” (5x14) and “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” (5x15)
After reading One Year Gone I was a little nervous about taking on another of the Supernatural novels but my thirst for Winchester proved to be too much to resist. I worried for naught. War of the Sons was fun from the start. Their adventure took them to a time and place I’d never have guessed I’d love. Sam and Dean go on a mission to avert the apocalypse and, low and behold, find a bit of trouble along the way. What was great about it though was the character loyalty. The brother to brother dialogue was written true to voice as were their inner thoughts. Dean was actually very funny. Which at first I had a problem with considering how “My Bloody Valentine” left off. But once I thought about it, that’s how Dean is. He’s a survivor. He’ll allow himself a breakdown now and again and then it’s time to move on. He’s good at tucking bits of his misery away and getting on with the job. The pace, mythology and quick wit had me waiting on pins & needles when I had to be away from the book. A great way to fill the space before September 23rd.
Final grade: A

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TVD Season 3 Questionnaire Extraordinaire

Wow you guys. We're almost there. Can you believe we survived yet another TVD free summer? Only a little over one day left to wait so I put together something to help pass the time! I asked some of my favorite fellow Vampire Diaries fans to fill me on what they've loved about the season 3 promotion and what they're most looking forward to in the coming weeks. Their answers are a delight to read and (if at all possible) have made me even more anxious for Thursday night to be here. Thomas Galvin (@thomascgalvin), Melissa Leaman (@onlymystory), Crissy Calhoun (@crissycalhoun), and Abby Graham (@AbbyGraham ), all decided to play my little time killing game. Be sure to follow each of them on Twitter to keep up with all of their amazing words and projects.

1. Favorite image from a TVD Video promo:
Thomas: Elena's mouth dropping open when Damon walks out of the shower, covered in soap suds. And is it just me, or did she look a little longer than necessary before turning away? No, it's not. That girl wants - nay, needs - a little Damon in her. Life. In her life.

I also really love that you can tell the difference between Nina Dobrev playing Elena and Nina Dobrev playing Katherine, even when she isn't talking. That girl has chops.

Melissa: Klaus whispering in Stefan’s ear. While my slash loving side totally ships Klefan, I also love the idea of there being a literal devil on his shoulder. We’ve all known for a while now that Stefan is constantly fighting his inner demon. The implications of a flesh and blood demon tempting him at every turn fascinates me.

Crissy: Stefan pulling Elena’s hair.

Abby: Klaus and the cake.

2. Favorite TVD promo poster and/or episode still:
Thomas: The paintings where the vampires are all holding fruit / ripped out hearts are fantastically well done. And seriously? How awesome is it that the people who run this show decided "pretty people holding ripped out hearts" was the best way to speak to their core demographic?

I have to say, though, that Stefan's poster is my favorite, just because it makes a promise: Stefan can be awesome. I've been really hard on him in the past, mostly because he's a giant girly-boy who contributes nothing except agreeing to whatever suicidal plan Elena has cooked up this week, but there are glimmers of hope there. The Ripper has a lot of potential, and it'll be fun to watch Paul Wesley have a character he can actually sink his teeth into.

And actually, if the promos are accurate, he's going to have entire sororities full of characters he can sink his teeth into.

Melissa: The pomegranate. I actually enjoy the entire fruit motif because symbolism and mythology are particular interests of mine. I went way too into the whole thing on my Tumblr page but I like the pomegranate best. It manages to factor into both Elena as a character and the show as a whole.

Crissy: Hmm, I try not to look at the stills because I am a huge spoilerphobe, but the ones where Matt and Jer were hanging out looking all serious and ridiculously handsome were a nice reminder of all the goodness to come.

Abby: The illustration-looking one that looks like an evil children's book cover.

3. What you’d most like to see happen in the Season 3 premiere:
Thomas: A lot of people didn't love the Season Two opener, because they didn't think enough happened. But it turned out that a ton of fantastic plots were established in those short forty-five minutes.

I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't break what works. I just want them to set the scene for all of the craziness that's going to happen over the next twenty-two episodes. We've got Stefan and Klaus, Damon and Elena, Caroline and Tyler, Jeremy and Bonnie and The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, and Katherine, and... maybe Alaric will get to talk a few times? That would be neat.

Of course, if they wanted to yank the Dagger of Not Really Dying out of Elijah, I wouldn't cry about it.

Melissa: Since I know that Stefan won’t really be letting his ripper flag fly until later, I think I’d most like to see some touching scenes between Alaric, Elena and Jeremy. People say your real family is the people you choose and those three have been developing their own version of a family for a while. I’d like to see some evidence of the three depending on each other, even if they don’t realize it.

Crissy: Klefan.

Abby: Ripper. Stefan. I know he'll happen, it's just the thing I'm most excited about, to see how Paul Wesley will play it.

4. What you’d most like to see happen within the first 6 episodes of Season 3:
Thomas: Six episodes is probably long enough for the writers to get Stefan back to Mystic Falls, and possibly free of Klaus. It would be very interesting to see how the Salvatore dynamic changes when Damon is the most rational one... not because Damon mellowed out, but because Stefan is batshit crazy.

I would also love for them to do something interesting with Bonnie. I've hated on her even more than Stefan, but I'd be ecstatic if they'd just make proper use of her. Give her some emotional development besides "I hate vampires and get nose bleeds a lot. But don't worry, it's not from the cocaine, it's from the magic." I'm still kind of rooting for her to become a Dark-Willow-style Big Bad. I think she'd be a fantastic tragic hero.

Melissa: Obviously I’m thrilled for RIPPAH STEFAN and the Roaring 20s flashbacks. I always love this show so it’s hard to say what I most want to see. But I guess that Elijah is woken up, lots of Damon/Alaric road trip bonding clich├ęs, tons of Anna and the beginning of a Matt story line.

Crissy: The rise of Elijah. (Actually I’m willing to wait a little longer to see that happen, as long as it does happen…)

Abby: Elijah: The Revenge

5. Which character do you think will offer the most surprises in Season 3?
Thomas: Stefan, just because I don't think people are used to seeing him as a bad guy. Even though we know it's coming, I think a lot of people are going to be shocked at how brutal The Ripper can be. And I really, really hope that's true.

Melissa: To me? I’m hoping Elena. I’d really like to see her go a bit darker. I think Matt’s going to be the Caroline of S3 though for most people. At the end of S1, the majority of fans hated Caroline and we’re hoping she wouldn’t make it through the premiere. Now of course, she’s one of the most beloved characters on the show. This time around, Matt seems to be in that boat but I know there’s not only so much more to the character but a wealth of talent in Zach. I can’t wait for this fandom to see that.

Crissy: Safe bet’s on Klaus, but I’m going to go with Elena.

Abby: Bonnie. I know that's a weird answer, but I think Kat Graham has more to offer the show than nosebleeds and moralizing, and I think the writers may be ready to show it.

6. Special predictions?
Thomas: Despite the troubled economy and a raft of failed promises, Obama will win a second term, largely because the American people are sick of the "political circus" in Washington.

Oh, you mean about TVD? Okay then.

I predict that there will be a Magic McGuffin that will cure Stefan of his Ripper tendencies, that Bonnie will be key in procuring said Plot Device, and that she will be emotionally conflicted over helping a vampire that has killed so many people. And then Damon will be all "STFU or GTFO," and she'll be like "okay fine, I'll help you this once," and Damon will be like "Witch please, you know you can't resist the eyebrows," and she'll be all like "you're right," and look at the ground like she's ashamed.

Melissa: Matt & Caroline will save Stefan while Elena & Elijah kill Klaus. Also, at some point, Katherine will have fun giving Damon & Alaric sexy dreams about each other.

Crissy: I’m terrible at guessing ahead — my only prediction is that we will not see it coming. Whatever “it” is.

Abby: None that come immediately to mind.

7. Your most burning TVD question:
Thomas: Not so much a question as a promise: if Caroline and Tyler have werepire puppies, I will walk to Atlanta and burn the set to the ground. Nothing says "jump that shark" like magic babies.

Though I guess you could turn that into a question. Like, "what kind of accelerant should you use to burn down an inexplicably empty high school?" Or "could they rebuild Caroline's house as fast as they repaired the Grill?" Or "where does Damon keep that flame thrower?"

Melissa: What is Mama Donovan and did Matt inherit some freaky gene from her?!

Crissy: The Original Petrova — who was she, why was she important enough to bind Klaus’s curse, and is she dead or undead?

Abby: None at the moment, I'm just waiting to see what will happen.

Just in case anyone reading this doesn't yet have September 15th tattooed on their foreheads yet, don't forget to watch the Season 3 premiere of The Vampire Diaries Thursday night at 8:00 PM EST on The CW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!